Game Boy Advance Media Player GBA, Nintendo DS Review
The GBA movie player is a little device made by third party developers that allows you to do all sorts of nifty things with your handheld. The price for the device itself is low but be careful, you will also need a CF card and reader, which can be rather expensive. The CF card also needs to have a minimum storage of 128mb. Let’s suppose you have a 1024mb CF card and reader laying around somewhere like I had before I ordered the GBA movie player, will it magically turn your GBA / DS in to a media center?
Quite simply put; yes. I’ve only tested this thing on a DS but the image quality in movies was very satisfying. The only thing that does bother me is the relatively low frames per second; fighting movies are a no-no. On the other hand just about all other genres work perfectly. You will need to use the software that comes in the package to transform a movie file into a .GBM and .GBS file. Thanks to new firmware being available from time to time you can transform just about all movie files. Once transformed, the film will be available as a .GBM file and the sounds as .GBS and by putting both files in the same folder with the same name you can play a movie with sounds. I might confuse you right now but trust me it’s easy. My only two issues with the movie player is the low FPS explained earlier and the fact that transforming a 90-minute movie can take hours. There are three different pre-set qualities: high quality, medium quality and low quality. You can also change things manually if you know what you are doing. I found it extremely satisfying when I put the quality of both picture and sound to the max and then I increased the sound volume with a factor 4: it made it easier to understand good ol’ Eddie Murphy when he was busy talking fast again.
Sounds are a different topic all together. The amplifier in the DS isn’t strong enough to keep audio quality perfect when increasing the volume. On the other hand, when using the speakers the quality is so much better than most expect; with the only problem being the fact that it isn’t too loud. I personally didn’t enjoy the quality when transformed from .mp3 to .GBS so I ripped from my CD’s to .wav, which gave me excellent music quality (as long as the volume wouldn’t be too high). Note, I also have .GBS sounds but the quality is extremely lacking when like this. Hopefully a new firmware update will be out concentrating on us DS owners to boast sound quality. Opposed to the movie player, transforming music to .GBS is often a matter of seconds.
The image support is extremely nifty. You can put pictures on your GBA movie player using all sorts of extensions and quality. My preferred extension is .BMP because obviously it will give the highest image quality. I do have one complaint though, when trying to see an image in a high resolution you will first focus on the top left of the image; you have to zoom out before you can see everything. It would be nice if it would automatically show the entire image and allow zooming in. Shuffling through images is pretty damned fast and transforming all sorts of image files to a supported extension will last a mere instant as well.
You can also read eBooks, well I have used this feature just once and all I can say is that it works. You can put any .txt file on the GBA movie player and it will work. There are all sorts of great features in here as well but I never had the option to check them out.
FC game support; it can play .NES files. I, just like the guys that implented this feature, won’t mention anything else than just this.
All in all if you want to see movies on your GBA or DS then this is a great way to do so. It’s cheaper than the Play-Yan, it’s available in the western world and because it uses CF cards there is a chance you have one of those things lying around. Don’t buy this just because of music, the eBook feature or the FC game support though. You will be disappointed by the music quality except when you use .WAV extensions for your music files. If you somehow love to read while you could spend the same time gaming then the eBook support will be for you. I can’t say this enough: the GBA movie player is a great movie player, with music, eBooks and the FC game support being extras. The image support in this thing is totally different though; it’s almost without flaws.
I should add that I often use the music features on this thing because the sound quality in .WAV really isn’t that bad. It’s only when you increase the volume that you will hear a hissing sound because the DS’s amplifier isn’t good enough. Personally I think that for you gadget fans this is a must buy, it’s probably the best way to go if you want to watch movies on the go as well.
Final conclusion, a great piece of equipment and thanks to frequent firmware updating it should only get better. It’s easy to work with and everything about the device itself feels solid. The biggest problem with the design itself is that it sticks out a bit, a you can see on the pictures. I don’t think it’s too big a problem but it definitely doesn’t look good. If you have a CF card of 128mb or more lying around then you should definitely get this thing. Otherwise you should consider getting this but remember that the price won’t be as pleasant because you still need to get a CF card and reader. I have a 1024mb card myself and it’s insane how much I can fit on it: 12 short films of under one minute of crazy stuff I’ve pulled out with friends, 29 high quality .WAV music files, 25 low quality .GBS music files, 469 pictures and some other stuff as well. There is still about 80mb left on my card as well, so again, gadget fans get one right now. You probably won’t find one in a store so search the web for either “movie advance” or “GBA movie player”.